Shooting Foster

While cruising the Architecture Foundation’s website, this t-shirt caught my eye. Was this a new design from some ironic London Archi-hipster fed up with Foster’s domination of the city? Unfortunately, no. “I Shot Norman Foster” is an exhibit displaying the work of 5 photographers from various design fields, commissioned by the Foundation to create new works based on Foster’s Architecture. The aim of the exhibit is to turn away from the generic money shots found all too often in current periodicals, and focus instead on how Foster’s work relates to the city and its denizens. It doesn’t “attempt to provide definitive answers on how to photograph architecture, but to experiment and offer a new direction.”

The photographers:

  • Artist Richard Wentworth’s photographs examine the curious and incidental details of Foster & Partner’s buildings from the street.
  • Jemima Stehli’s work uses her own body to explore the nature of the space she occupies.
  • Photographer Olivia Beasley has taken voyeuristic shots toying with the theme of the absence of people.
  • Poppy de Villeneuve’s documentary-style photographs capture the disordered reality of how architecture is ultimately used, people waiting to meet and riding the escalators at Canary Wharf station.
  • Magnum Reportage photographer Chris Steele-Perkins has caught 30 St Mary Axe, better known as ‘the Gherkin’, the Millennium Bridge and City Hall in obscure yet familiar reflections and intricately layered and contextual images that are almost super-real.
  • Norbert Schoerner is a fashion photographer with clients including Vogue, I-D, Prada, Miu Miu and McQueen and has created time-lapsed images of the Great Court at the British Museum.
  • I wish I could arrange to be in London before this exhibition ends. The sterility of architectural photographs has always annoyed me. In fact, I first grew to love Dwell because they actually *gasp* show people in their photographs -although lately it seems like the people shown (almost always residents) are dressed and posed as carefully as some photographers arrange furniture.

    “I Shot Norman Foster” runs until January 20th. Has anyone out there seen this yet? Have the photographers successfully created original – yet still informative – works? Is there hope for architectural photography?

    One Reply to “Shooting Foster”

    1. Well, it’s closed now (I went about two days before it did), and I was underwhelmed, I’m afraid. Norbert Schoerner’s Great Court photos were obviously from a fashion photographer: they were wanky, overmanipulated and dull, for example. Jemima Stehli only managed two photos of herself naked in a block under construction before the builders complained of distraction.

      My favourites were of the building of Wembley Stadium, but even they weren’t really enough to hold my attention.

      The other photos didn’t have the sterility you complain about, but in focussing too much on people, they managed not to include the buildings enough, and I like Foster’s work. If I wanted pictures of people, I’d be at the National Portrait Gallery. However, I was at the Architecture Foundation, yet the buildings were taking second place. Most annoying.

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